( For Irom Sharmila)by K.SatchidanandanMy body ismy flag at half-mast.My water comesfrom Tomorrow’s river,my bread,from the wind’s kitchen.In my brain is a bullet,green like the clairvoyante’s parrot.My name is the last letterof my ancient language,the final answer to every riddle,the moral of every proverb,the god of every magic chant,the ominous truth of every oracle.My life leaves me everydayand everyday it comes backlike the bird that survives the huntersto return to its nestwith the odour of the forest-rain.In the night emptied ofthe morning’s greetingsand the evening’s prayers,I lie alone under one desolate starlike the broken benchin an abndoned village teashopholding on stillto the warmth and odourof yesterday’s visitors.I have forgotten lovelike the nameless floweronce seen in a flashon a village hillock;my childhood lies sunk in the sandlike the paper boatpulped by the heavy rain.My poems are the autumn’slast yellow leaves.My kids turned into vapourby the echoes of rifles’ reportswill come down heavilyas a rain of bloodover those soldiers of hell.I won’t be there; butmy hope will be :a word from the mountainthat doesn’t need to be tube-fed,a poem from the woodsno boots can crush,an alphabet of steelno bayonet can pierce,a purple hibiscus:my Manipur heartever in bloom. (Translated from Malayalam by the poet )


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